October 27, 2023 | Natalie Webber

Riser recliner chairs vs fireside chairs: pros and cons

Are you looking for a mobility chair that’s more supportive than a standard armchair and wondering whether to buy an ergonomic fireside chair or a full-featured riser recliner chair? If so, we’re guessing you may be unsure about a) what is most suitable for your needs and b) what’s the best value for money for you.

It’s a choice many of our customers make so, in this guide, we’ll set out our best advice based on our 45 years’ experience. You can buy riser recliner chairs and fireside chairs from Felgains, so this will be a totally unbiased guide that offers a genuine comparison – and clears up some common misconceptions!

What is a fireside arm chair compared to a riser recliner chair?


Fireside chairs have been around for hundreds of years, so there are many styles. Here, we’re talking about fireside chairs that have been designed to support your posture and mobility, which have some or all of the following features:Breydon Chair

  • High seat – takes less effort to stand up from
  • Wooden knuckles – gives something solid to grip and push down onto when standing up
  • High back – supports your head, neck and shoulders
  • Upright orthopaedic backrest – so you can sit in an ergonomic position with full back support

By contrast, a riser recliner chair has electric lift and recline functions. This means you can use a handset and have the chair raise you to a standing position (and, in reverse, lower you to sit down). You can also choose the most comfortable sitting or reclined position. There’s a wide range of configurations available to suit your needs, including a choice of back, seat cushion and armrest styles.

An orthopaedic fireside chair will often have a more upright and firmer style of seating compared to a riser recliner chair. Both fireside chairs and riser recliner chairs are available in a range of upholstery, including wipe-clean, although you have much more choice with a riser recliner chair.

Pros and cons: fireside and riser recliner chairs compared


  Fireside chairs Riser recliner chairs
  • Cheaper
  • Simple – no buttons to operate
  • Takes up less space and is lighter to move
  • Huge range of configurations 
  • Range of seated and reclined positions
  • Standing up and sitting down takes no physical effort
  • No VAT relief
  • Limited options
  • More expensive to purchase and has some ongoing costs (uses electricity to operate and should be serviced annually)

Recliner chairs vs riser recliner chairs: differences, benefits and buying factors explained

So, is a fireside chair or a riser recliner chair best?


Scenarios where a riser recliner chair is likely to be best:


1. You want to sleep in your chair

2. You’ll be sitting in your chair for several hours every day

3. You have more complex posture and/or pressure care needs

4. You have Parkinson’s, Stroke or other health condition that makes you slip/slump in a chair

5. You’re at high risk of falls


Scenarios where a fireside chair is likely to be best:


1. You have a back problem where a firm, upright sitting position is recommended

2. You have dementia, learning disability* or you’re severely sight impaired

*Option for carer control available on Ashore Porter Riser Recliner




1. False: You should have a high seated chair because it’s easier to stand up from

True: A fireside chair with a high seat and/or wooden knuckles is easier to stand up from than a standard sofa, for example. However, a riser recliner chair makes it even easier to stand up – in fact, the electrical lift means it takes no physical effort at all!

2. False: You must not sit in a recliner chair post hip surgery

True: After surgery such as hip replacement, you should ensure the chair is high enough to at least prevent the hip joint being lower than the knee when sitting. If you have been advised to sit with your knees lower than your hips, you can use a riser recliner chair to sit at this slightly raised angle (provided your mobility doesn’t put you at risk of slipping).

Depending on the mechanism of your recliner chair, you may have to avoid using the recline function to maintain your hip angle at least 90 degrees. Likewise, if you sit on a fireside chair, you should not use a footstool. It’s usually recommended you only sit on a chair that has arms. At all times, make sure you follow your therapist’s instructions.


In summary…


Generally, the more limited your mobility is, the more beneficial the functions of a riser recliner chair become. You may be thinking ‘I don’t need all the functions of a riser recliner right now’. True though this may be, we always recommend you consider what your mobility and health needs are likely to be in the long-term too.

Many people have a preference on style of seating, which will influence your decision. You may love to sink into a comfy chair, or you may favour a firmer feel. The best thing you can do is to try both options before buying.



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How to choose a riser recliner chair




Natalie Webber

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